When is it time to stop networking? When it no longer is working for you. Networking, meaning in person, runs a spectrum from uneasy to comfy. You may attend a regular networking event for the first time and you may be a little apprehensive. Lots of people you don’t know, the location is unfamiliar, you have to make fairly cold introductions.
But you get to know people and it becomes easier. In fact, perhaps you attend the meet or function on a regular basis. You have now gone to it for months and you know everyone. You have made a lot of great connections, gotten new clients, but now it’s more like meeting with your friends.
This is when the networking can stop being efficient. Now that it is comfy and you know pretty much everyone, you know their story, you have gotten contacts, it can become dramatically less productive. Granted it still will be fun, but don’t automatically count it as “networking time”. It is at this point when you may need to move to a new group, one where you don’t know people and it takes a while to connect with everyone.
Your networking should always be rebooted periodically. It is very easy to get into comfy grooves. But when you find you are spending 3 nights a week meeting with your (now) friends “networking”, you may notice your new client opportunities have slowed to a crawl. It may be time to mix it up a bit. Find a new group, look for a different event or opportunity. Expand your range. You’ll be amazed when you hit a new group that you suddenly make a lot of new contacts and acquire a new batch of potential clients.
If your current focus has run its course, it’s time to shift it.
How can you move out of your networking comfort zone? Can you find at least one completely new event to attend this month?